childhood

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childhood

a stage in the LIFE COURSE characterized by dependent status, usually, though not necessarily, due to biological immaturity. There are historical and cultural variations in the ways in which people understand age, and the division of the human age span into stages and meaningful categories is referred to as the social construction of age. According to Philippe Aries (Centuries of Childhood, 1962), the concept of childhood as a critical stage in the development of the person leads to particular ways of understanding and organizing the lives of young people which are highly variable, both historically and between societies. See also CHILD DEVELOPMENT, SOCIALIZATION, ANNALES SCHOOL.